JERUSALEM – On Sunday, the 23rd of September, Bishop Munib Younan installed Rev. Carrie Smith as the pastor of the English Speaking congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem and as Special Assistant to the Bishop. Along with her blessing from Bishop Younan, Rev. Ibrahim Azar of the Arabic Speaking congregation, Rev. Mari Parkkinen of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, Rev. Mark Brown, the Church Council Chairperson of the English Speaking congregation, Rev. Robert Smith, both a special advisor to Bishop Younan and Rev. Carrie’s husband, and Propst Wolfgang Schmidt, Representative of the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland in Jerusalem, Rev. Carrie was also surrounded by members of the English and Arabic speaking congregations, as well as her husband and children. Bishop Younan presented the places of Word and Sacrament – the font, altar, and pulpit – after the blessing and the laying on of hands.
CHICAGO (ELCA) – As the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip further escalates, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), expressed her profound concern for members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in a July 17, 2014, letter to that denomination’s bishop, the Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan.
“Our hearts are heavy as we read about and see images of the violence being inflicted on both Israelis and Palestinians. This suffering and loss of life are inexcusable before God. As followers with you of the Prince of Peace, and as children of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, we long for peace and a just resolution to the escalating conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people,” Eaton wrote, adding that she is responding directly to Younan’s call to participate in interventions and actions “to create hope in a hopeless situation.”
In a July 16 public statement, Younan asked that Christians and “all people of good will intervene in the present situation of unacceptable violence and bloodshed.” He said, “If we cannot take steps towards peace, we will continue to be held hostage by extremism. Please do not leave us alone in this moment of struggle. The whole Middle East is boiling. We need your prophetic voice and support so that peace built on justice and reconciliation built on forgiveness will prevail.”
In her letter to Younan, Eaton shared that “we join you in your call for a cessation of all hostilities between Israel and Hamas and a return to direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution and adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law.”
The ELCA presiding bishop wrote that she will encourage all ELCA congregations to continue their prayers for peace in the Holy Land, including participation in “a minute of silence” during Sunday worship.
Although her intended visit to Jordan and the Holy Land scheduled for later this month has been postponed, Eaton told Younan that she looks “forward to our time together.” In her letter, she noted the “steadfastness” of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land: “The church’s strong witness for coexistence grounded in peace with justice permeates every level of congregational, educational and diaconal service. Our faith is strengthened by knowing how, even in the midst of great difficulties, the Body of Christ is working in Palestine and Jordan for the good of all communities.
“Along with the witness of your pastors and lay leaders, your witness, Bishop Younan, has strengthened our confidence that peace can indeed be achieved among the two peoples and three religions that share the Holy Land. Your statements, speeches and sermons have been a model for promoting both political and interreligious coexistence, along with your strong support of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which you helped found,” Eaton wrote.
The ELCA presiding bishop also expressed her gratitude for Younan’s capacity to uplift “the voices of moderation and against extremism.” She expressed her appreciation in particular for the long-standing work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land’s schools in demonstrating “the importance of education through a curriculum based on peace, nonviolence, peaceful co-existence and the strengthening of civil society for the benefit of all communities.”
Through an ELCA “Peace Not Walls” action alert issued July 17, ELCA members are being encouraged to contact members of U.S. Congress to ask for an end “to the latest round of violence.” The alert offers a sample letter which ELCA members can use to contact U.S. Senators and Representatives, featuring elements of Younan’s July 16 statement that calls for the “immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza.”
Younan also calls for the resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace; critical support for healthcare infrastructure; material support for interreligious cooperation and peacebuilding through the educational and diaconal ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and that the global Christian community, including member churches of The Lutheran World Federation, provide necessary assistance to those who have been internally displaced or affected by the current wave of violence and to help the economic and development of the growth of the Palestinian people.
The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion’s only member church from the United States.
To read the full text of Bishop Eaton’s letter, practice advocacy with the ELCA’s Peace Not Walls Ministry, or read the ELCA’s “Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine,” visit the ELCA’s press release regarding Bishop Eaton’s letter.
Bishop Munib Younan and the English-Speaking congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) welcomed new volunteers for a year of service in the Holy Land. The six Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) volunteers, known as Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) were blessed. The YAGM work with the ELCJHL’s schools and ministries and worship with Palestinian Christians throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank. Other volunteers who were commissioned were with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Lutheran World Federation, Jerusalem Program. Bishop Munib Younan, Rev. Mark Brown, Church Council President, Rev. Jeff VonWald, Co-YAGM Coordinator, and Revs. Martin and Angela Zimmann, pastors of the English-Speaking congregation, commissioned and welcomed the new volunteers.
“We are accompanying each other with the various gifts that we have and that God has bestowed upon us,” said Bishop Munib Younan during the service. “You have come here to serve as equals with equal partners, to accompany them as they accompany you.”
“May God bless you in this very demanding, but very rewarding, experience.”
To listen to music from the service, visit the ELCJHL’s Soundcloud page.
To see photos from the service, visit our photo gallery.
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 5, 2012
CHICAGO (ELCA) – Concerned about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and the commitment for a just peace, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and other U.S. Christian leaders are urging Congress to conduct an investigation into possible human rights and weapon violations by the government of Israel.
In an Oct. 5 letter to Congress, the religious leaders cited possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which respectively excludes assistance to any country that engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”
The leaders also urged Congress “to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.”
Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, joined other U.S. religious leaders in meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan in Washington, D.C., on April 20, 2009. The meeting was a follow-up to Hanson’s January meeting with the king in Jordan. At both events, the king and Christian leaders discussed the importance of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
Following an invitation from Peace Not Walls staff, on January 5 Lutheran filmmaker Tim Frakes donated his time and expertise for two website and video production workshops for high school students at schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). Ten students, a teacher, a volunteer, and a principal attended at no cost during their winter school break and in spite of the fighting in the nearby Gaza Strip.
Participants were instructed in basic camera technique, composition, and sound recording, and were also introduced to new video social networking sites, blogging, and Facebook. Students showed interest, and through Facebook some now have continued their conversation with Frakes. Frakes told the students, “I don’t want to teach you how to make videos; I want you to change the world through your videos.”
The workshops were held at the Dar Al Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem and at the Evangelical Lutheran School of Beit Sahour and were organized by Sister Sylvia Countess, ELCA Global Mission assistant to ELCJHL schools director Dr. Charlie Haddad.
Sister Sylvia Countess addresses workshop participants at the Dar al-Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem.
A student at the Dar al-Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem listens during the workshop.
Workshop Leader Tim Frakes
(Reproduced with permission from elca.org)
For the first time, six Young Adults in Global Mission – a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America – have been assigned to Jerusalem and the West Bank. For the next year, they will serve in various ELCJHL school and other ministries. The YAGMs recently met with ELCJHL Bishop Younan, who welcomed them and told them of the important role they can play in “breaking the circle of anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.”
The ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program provides one-year mission service and learning opportunities in international settings. As the young adult volunteers offer themselves in service, they also learn more about themselves, their relationship with God and their place in God’s world. Young adults are transformed by their experiences, equipping them upon return to take on responsibilities within the church and to provide a global perspective on issues facing the church and society.
Bishop Younan and the ELCJHL are deeply saddened by the great loss of our brother in Christ, Bishop John Schreiber of the ELCA’s Southeast Michigan Synod, our partner synod. We considered him a wise prophet who spoke out on behalf of peace with justice in Palestine/Israel. He understood our realities on the ground here and was a cherished friend who worked with us in a common mission. May God Bless his life and ministry, and grant comfort and support to his family, friends and colleagues.
Three ELCA bishops and their planning delegation traveled to Palestine and Israel in early February to plan the January, 2009, conference of bishops, where 55-60 bishops from the US and Canada and their delegations are planning to attend. The delegation visited Bishop Munib Younan and the congregations of the ELCJHL, the partner of both the ELCA and the ELCIC, to hear about faith and life in the Palestinian Lutheran church. The group met Palestinian and Israeli officials from the governments and other organizations to seek out information about prospects for peace and justice in the Holy Land. The people of the ELCJHL were heartened that their partners were coming to see for themselves the realities on the ground.
Click here to read Pastor Eric Shafer’s blog about the trip and links to his videos.
Pastor Mark and Marcia Holman were installed Sunday at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer’s English-Speaking Congregation in Jerusalem. Pastor Mark comes most recently from Lutheran Services in America, and Marcia is a special education specialist. Mark will serve as pastor, following Pastor Russ Siler who was here for 4 years and retired in June. Marcia will serve in the ELCJHL schools. Bishop Younan preached from Mark 10, about how we are all called to serve as servants. Sunday was also the last day for Paul Pierce and Kathy Kamphoeffner, who served the American Friends Service Committee in Jerusalem for 4 years, who are moving to Cairo to do the refugee ministry for the ELCA.